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How To Brainstorm Domain Names

How To Brainstorm Domain Names
How To Brainstorm Domain Names

If you’re in the business of creating websites and registering domain names you will have encountered the all important question: What do we call it?

When starting a business, now-a-days, thinking of a name that could be registered as a domain is very important [if you will operate a lot on the web]. That said, availability of a name shouldn’t compromise what you are actually trying to achieve with the name.

First of all I’ll draw on Chris Garrett’s post on choosing domain names [see How To Choose A Domain Name]. He identifies some pitfalls of domain name branding and what you should be looking for when choosing one:

  • How original and unique is it?
  • How descriptive is it?
  • What image does it convey?
  • Would you remember it after seeing it once?
  • Could you spell it after hearing it once?
  • Conveniently, those points are pretty much in the correct order for brainstorming names.

    First find one that’s available, then discuss whether it works or not. Does it say what you want? Are there negative images or ideas associated that don’t fit? Is it memorable and easy for new users to find after maybe hearing about it in conversation?

    Brainstorm

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    I think the first rule for brainstorming is having a partner. A second opinion is crucial for weeding out what you think might sound good at first but really isn’t right. This is almost like instantly having that realization when you think of an idea, walk away, and then come back to it later.

    Before beginning some guidelines should be laid out. That is, what you are looking for in the name, keywords, length and general ideas associated. This should be kept pretty general and not strictly adhered to if necessary. That way new and better ideas can come up.

    Throwing ideas at each other can be done in two manners:

    1. The first is the no-critique approach where no idea is too dumb and everything gets written down. After which you revise the list and whittle it down to only the good stuff.

    From there you cut more and more until you have the name. If no resolution is found, you do it all over again – eventually the right name will come.

    2. The second method is more of a conversation and, I think, works best for domain registrations. With each name a snap judgment should be made. Making quick decisions is perfect because domain names are your first point of contact and, generally for branding purposes, should make a good first impression.

    What’s great about working with a partner and just throwing ideas at each other is, usually, a name will come up that both parties instantly agree on. It’s a zen sort of moment when nothing is said for a second and everyone is in. Like most idea generation, when it happens you will know.

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    How To Brainstorm Domain Names

    Availability

    More important than anything when talking about domain names is availability. You can’t register something that’s already registered, so brainstorming is important. While brainstorming name ideas there are a few tools that will help.

    Using instant domain searches are great because they provide instant notification when a domain name is unavailable. This is important when brainstorming because you can instantly have an idea shut down and move on to the next. This saves a lot of time.

    One’s I’ve used are InstantDomainSearch.com and AjaxDomainSearch.com which work fine, but my preference is AjaxWhois.com for one reason.

    AjaxWhois stands out because of it’s Favoriting feature. When you come across a name that works and is available [your maybe’s] you can save them on the site for future reference.

    To Note

    I have found that sometimes when one of these fast domain searches say a domain is available you will later find, when attempting to register, that it isn’t.

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    In which case it’s a good idea to have your host or where ever you register your domains open as well so you can check the ‘available’ domain names. This is just a case of double checking since, for some reason, those searches make mistakes.

    Ideas For The Future

    Darren Rowse brought up an interesting point about future-proofing your domain name and extending it’s use later down the line [see Choosing The Domain Name For Your Blog].

    For instance, you don’t want your site to look dated based on it’s name alone. Likewise, if your business [or blog] outgrows the limits of your domain how could you expand properly?

    Another ‘future factor’ to consider is how many blogs you’re thinking of starting on your domain. Take a look at About.com for an example of how it’s possible to have one domain with many blogs running off it. They blog ‘about’ hundreds of topics and have a domain name that suits this perfectly.

    Top Level Domains

    The benefit of sticking to a .com [instead of .net or .com.au etc] is standardization. When talking about your site and letting word of mouth and other marketing do it’s thing, having something that is easy and known works best.

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    When you mention to someone that you have speaker site about monitor speakers that is called Speaker Freaker, you don’t want to be correcting everyone that it’s actually a .net and not the, always assumed, .com.

    Also to consider is cost. In Australia a .com.au is much more expensive than a .com and requires a registered business number [ABN]. This is great for availability and recognition as a business, but bad for keeping the costs down and, generally, international appeal.

    Criteria

    I would group certain criteria to keep in mind when registering any domain name. These are as follows:

  • Availability – is it up for grabs?
  • Suitability – does it fit the business, content or target audience?
  • Memorability – can someone just hear about it and put it in their address bar without errors?
  • There is some leniency for the Suitability criteria. You may decide on a name that is almost completely unrelated to your business based on branding alone. Think of Nike or Darren’s example of BoingBoing.

    With this checklist and a good understanding of what you want the site to do, you should find that all elusive domain name to be easier to snatch than you think.

    More by this author

    Craig Childs

    Craig is an editor and web developer who writes about happiness and motivation at Lifehack

    How To Start a Conversation with Anyone 8 Steps to Continuous Self Motivation Even During the Difficult Times How Not To Suck At Socializing – Do’s & Don’ts Ten Ways to Improve Your Quality of Life Storage Ideas For Small Spaces

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    Last Updated on September 18, 2019

    How to Take Notes Effectively: Powerful Note-Taking Techniques

    How to Take Notes Effectively: Powerful Note-Taking Techniques

    Note-taking is one of those skills that rarely gets taught. Almost everyone assumes either that taking good notes comes naturally or, that someone else must have already taught about how to take notes. Then, we sit around and complain that our colleagues don’t know how to take notes.

    I figure it’s about time to do something about that. Whether you’re a student or a mid-level professional, the ability to take effective, meaningful notes is a crucial skill. Not only do good notes help us recall facts and ideas we may have forgotten, the act of writing things down helps many of us to remember them better in the first place.

    One of the reasons people have trouble taking effective notes is that they’re not really sure what notes are for. I think a lot of people, students and professionals alike, attempt to capture a complete record of a lecture, book, or meeting in their notes — to create, in effect, minutes. This is a recipe for failure.

    Trying to get every last fact and figure down like that leaves no room for thinking about what you’re writing and how it fits together. If you have a personal assistant, by all means, ask him or her to write minutes; if you’re on your own, though, your notes have a different purpose to fulfill.

    The purpose of note-taking is simple: to help you work better and more quickly. This means your notes don’t have to contain everything, they have to contain the most important things.

    And if you’re focused on capturing everything, you won’t have the spare mental “cycles” to recognize what’s truly important. Which means that later, when you’re studying for a big test or preparing a term paper, you’ll have to wade through all that extra garbage to uncover the few nuggets of important information?

    What to Write Down

    Your focus while taking notes should be two-fold. First, what’s new to you? There’s no point in writing down facts you already know. If you already know the Declaration of Independence was written and signed in 1776, there’s no reason to write that down. Anything you know you know, you can leave out of your notes.

    Second, what’s relevant? What information is most likely to be of use later, whether on a test, in an essay, or in completing a project? Focus on points that directly relate to or illustrate your reading (which means you’ll have to have actually done the reading…). The kinds of information to pay special attention to are:

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    Dates of Events

    Dates allow you to create a chronology, putting things in order according to when they happened, and understand the context of an event.

    For instance, knowing Isaac Newton was born in 1643 allows you to situate his work in relation to that of other physicists who came before and after him, as well as in relation to other trends of the 17th century.

    Names of People

    Being able to associate names with key ideas also helps remember ideas better and, when names come up again, to recognize ties between different ideas whether proposed by the same individuals or by people related in some way.

    Theories or Frameworks

    Any statement of a theory or frameworks should be recorded — they are the main points most of the time.

    Definitions

    Like theories, these are the main points and, unless you are positive you already know the definition of a term, should be written down.

    Keep in mind that many fields use everyday words in ways that are unfamiliar to us.

    Arguments and Debates

    Any list of pros and cons, any critique of a key idea, both sides of any debate or your reading should be recorded.

    This is the stuff that advancement in every discipline emerges from, and will help you understand both how ideas have changed (and why) but also the process of thought and development of the matter of subject.

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    Images

    Whenever an image is used to illustrate a point, a few words are in order to record the experience.

    Obviously it’s overkill to describe every tiny detail, but a short description of a painting or a short statement about what the class, session or meeting did should be enough to remind you and help reconstruct the experience.

    Other Stuff

    Just about anything a professor writes on a board should probably be written down, unless it’s either self-evident or something you already know. Titles of books, movies, TV series, and other media are usually useful, though they may be irrelevant to the topic at hand.

    I usually put this sort of stuff in the margin to look up later (it’s often useful for research papers, for example). Pay attention to other’s comments, too — try to capture at least the gist of comments that add to your understanding.

    Your Own Questions

    Make sure to record your own questions about the material as they occur to you. This will help you remember to ask the professor or look something up later, as well as prompt you to think through the gaps in your understanding.

    3 Powerful Note-Taking Techniques

    You don’t have to be super-fancy in your note-taking to be effective, but there are a few techniques that seem to work best for most people.

    1. Outlining

    Whether you use Roman numerals or bullet points, outlining is an effective way to capture the hierarchical relationships between ideas and data. For example, in a history class, you might write the name of an important leader, and under it the key events that he or she was involved in. Under each of them, a short description. And so on.

    Outlining is a great way to take notes from books, because the author has usually organized the material in a fairly effective way, and you can go from start to end of a chapter and simply reproduce that structure in your notes.

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    For lectures, however, outlining has limitations. The relationship between ideas isn’t always hierarchical, and the instructor might jump around a lot. A point later in the lecture might relate better to information earlier in the lecture, leaving you to either flip back and forth to find where the information goes best (and hope there’s still room to write it in), or risk losing the relationship between what the professor just said and what she said before.

    2. Mind-Mapping

    For lectures, a mind-map might be a more appropriate way of keeping track of the relationships between ideas. Now, I’m not the biggest fan of mind-mapping, but it might just fit the bill.

    Here’s the idea:

    In the center of a blank sheet of paper, you write the lecture’s main topic. As new sub-topics are introduced (the kind of thing you’d create a new heading for in an outline), you draw a branch outward from the center and write the sub-topic along the branch. Then each point under that heading gets its own, smaller branch off the main one. When another new sub-topic is mentioned, you draw a new main branch from the center. And so on.

    The thing is, if a point should go under the first heading but you’re on the fourth heading, you can easily just draw it in on the first branch. Likewise, if a point connects to two different ideas, you can connect it to two different branches.

    If you want to neaten things up later, you can re-draw the map or type it up using a program like FreeMind, a free mind-mapping program (some wikis even have plug-ins for FreeMind mind-maps, in case you’re using a wiki to keep track of your notes).

    You can learn more about mind-mapping here: How to Mind Map: Visualize Your Cluttered Thoughts in 3 Simple Steps

    3. The Cornell System

    The Cornell System is a simple but powerful system for increasing your recall and the usefulness of your notes.

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    About a quarter of the way from the bottom of a sheet of paper, draw a line across the width of the page. Draw another line from that line to the top, about 2 inches (5 cm) from the right-hand edge of the sheet.

    You’ve divided your page into three sections. In the largest section, you take notes normally — you can outline or mind-map or whatever. After the lecture, write a series of “cues” into the skinny column on the right, questions about the material you’ve just taken notes on. This will help you process the information from the lecture or reading, as well as providing a handy study tool when exams come along: simply cover the main section and try to answer the questions.

    In the bottom section, you write a short, 2-3 line summary in your own words of the material you’ve covered. Again, this helps you process the information by forcing you to use it in a new way; it also provides a useful reference when you’re trying to find something in your notes later.

    You can download instructions and templates from American Digest, though the beauty of the system is you can dash off a template “on the fly”.

    The Bottom Line

    I’m sure I’m only scratching the surface of the variety of techniques and strategies people have come up with to take good notes. Some people use highlighters or colored pens; others a baroque system of post-it notes.

    I’ve tried to keep it simple and general, but the bottom line is that your system has to reflect the way you think. The problem is, most haven’t given much thought to the way they think, leaving them scattered and at loose ends — and their notes reflect this.

    More About Note-Taking

    Featured photo credit: Kaleidico via unsplash.com

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